Royal InstitutionAbout the Sir Humphry Davy Notebooks project

Partnering with the Royal Institution and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, this project transcribes a range of the notebooks of Sir Humphry Davy. Davy was one of the most significant and famous figures in the scientific and literary culture of early nineteenth-century Britain, Europe, and America.

The project allowed us to transcribe five of Humphry Davy’s early notebooks and these have been transcribed by more than 500 people across the world, using Zooniverse. This website presents the results of the Davy Notebook Project.  Please contact project lead Professor Sharon Ruston for any questions about this project. The following people were some of those who contributed to the transcriptions.

Adele Fidlan; Adrienne Lai; Anaïs Tripodi; Ann Kelcey; charlielutra24; Christina Juhlin; Daniel McAteer; Davide Amato; JaneChurchill/Rachael Pymm; Janet Cormack; JDavidJ; Jennifer Greenfield; Laura Fox; Lightfish/Helen Golubeva; Lillian Maisfehlt; Liz Haigh; Mari-Elna Sutcliffe; NLink; PenguinsRCute; Priya Ann Singh; Ruth Bingham; Simon Liddle; Sue Needham; Sue Tearne; Whitby_Jet; Zephyr Taurel; Charles Horn; Nancy Oudman.
Humphry Davy

Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829)

Davy’s scientific accomplishments include: conducting pioneering research into the physiological effects of nitrous oxide (often called ‘laughing gas’); isolating
seven chemical elements (magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, strontium, barium, and boron) and establishing the elemental status of chlorine and iodine; inventing a miners’ safety lamp; developing the electrochemical protection of the copper sheeting of Royal Navy vessels; conserving the Herculaneum papyri; and writing an influential text on agricultural chemistry. Davy was also a poet, moving in the same literary circles as Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, and William Wordsworth.

The notebooks selected for this pilot run of the Davy Notebooks Project reveal how Davy’s mind worked and how his thinking developed. Containing details of his scientific experiments, poetry, geological observations, travel accounts, and personal philosophy, Davy’s notebooks present us with a wide range of fascinating insights. Many of the pages of these notebooks have never been transcribed before. By transcribing these notebooks, we will find out more about the young Davy, his life, and the cultures and networks of which he was part.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council

AHRC logoThe Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

Visit the AHRC website at:, on Twitter at @ahrcpress, and on Facebook search for the Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.

Project Team

Sharon Ruston

Professor Sharon Ruston

Principle Investigator

Sharon is Professor of Romanticism in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, Lancaster University. With Tim Fulford, she co-edited The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy, to be published in four volumes by Oxford University Press in 2020.

Andrew Lacey

Dr. Andrew Lacey

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Andrew is Senior Research Associate in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, Lancaster University. He was formerly research assistant on The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy, and is currently writing a book on Shelley’s visions of death.

Frank James

Professor Frank James

Professor of History of Science

Professor in the Department of Science & Technology Studies at UCL. He is currently writing a book on Humphry Davy's practical work

Michal Radecki

Michal Radecki

Technical developer

Michal is a student at Lancaster University and is a technical programmer. He was responsible for extracting and importing data between systems